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Traverse City "Official Foodie Town" - Hotels filling up Fast

Traverse City: Available and Affordable?

May 1, 2013
Traverse City: Available and Affordable?

Traverse City is now a legitimate “foodie town” with statewide and national buzz, while Pure Michigan helps fuel another likely blockbuster summer tourism season.

But as the region soars toward another peak season, is there fear that the Cherry Capital could become a place where “no vacancy” signs and high hotel rates could prevail?

Ron Robinson, director of operations for Comfort Inn, Cambria Suites, Shadowland Motel and Best Western Four Seasons, is ready for a nearly perfect balance of occupied hotel rooms and just enough demand for more.

“The last couple of years we’ve had 95 to 98 percent occupancy in July and August. Certain weeks are sold out already,” Robinson says, adding that while there’s “lots of openings midweek,” these, too, will eventually fill up.

As demand rises, “there’s pressure to increase the rates,” Robinson admits. But, matching pricing with amenities is crucial, he says.

“People who are coming up and paying a higher rate are expecting all the amenities to be there—like we have a complimentary shuttle to take people downtown for dinners."

Rate jumps at local hotels are a result of basic supply and demand, insists Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Brad Van Dommelen.

“People who travel further distances, who come from out of state, tend to be not as rate sensitive and are used to traveling to other destinations where rates are higher,” he says. “They are from East Coast, the Carolinas … they have created additional demand for our product. It’s enabled through pure economics for hotels to increase rates, which is a very positive thing.”

Jeff Weaner of Traverse Bay Inn in Traverse City agrees there’s pressure to raise rates, but is mindful of staying competitive.

“I don’t want to get to the point where my rates are too high,” he says. “It’s a fine line. I do improvements every single year. My theory is if you’re not moving ahead, you’re moving backwards. We work really hard and try to keep things in great shape. But you have to look at where you fit in … you want to portray [your hotel] appropriately.”

Like most hotels and motels, the Traverse Bay Inn has been booked for most of July and August 2013 since 2012.

The Traverse City area has more than 5,000 guest rooms at hotels, motels, resorts, condos and B&Bs. In 2012, Traverse City’s average daily occupancy rate was up 5.1 percent from 2011, Van Dommelen says. Michigan’s overall daily occupancy rate was up 3.9 percent, while it was up 4.8 percent nationwide.

So what are the rates for peak summer hotel stays in Traverse City? The Ticker did a quick search on hotels.com, selecting the long Fourth of July weekend for a family of five. The result: Just two Traverse City hotels are available, with rates of $340 and $250 per night. (Three other hotels were located outside Grand Traverse County, and 41 other hotels were mentioned as “not available on your travel dates.”)

This summer will bring hotel owners a boon season, virtually the opposite situation they faced in 2008-09, when steep discounts to attract travelers was the norm, Van Dommelen says.

Shop for all your Traverse City Real Estate Needs and Community information, maps, links (including dining & hotels) at www.c21jb.com
Posted: Wednesday, May 01, 2013 11:46 AM by Jon Becker

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